19 Best Places to Visit in New EnglandUnited States
Quaint small towns, beautiful beaches, adorable lighthouses, and even a few fabulous cities: there are plenty of reasons to visit New England, and it certainly helps that the list of incredible places to visit in New England is never-ending!
A couple of years ago, we passed a delightful summer living in Boston, and though we tried hard to also hit up as many of the best places to visit in New England as possible outside of Boston, we had a very hard time tearing ourselves away from what is now our favorite American city–and as a result, our personal list of places to see in New England is still incredibly long.
We teamed up with several other travel bloggers to create this New England bucket list–we would love to visit each and every one of these spots in New England, and hopefully, we’ll get to see more of them soon!
From Margie of DQ Family Travel
Middletown, Connecticut is absolutely one of the best places to visit in New England. It is located closer to the interior part of the state, but not too far off from Hartford. The best time of year to visit would have to be during the fall foliage time of October.
There are plenty of things to do in Middletown, CT if you’re visiting for a day or even a weekend. Wesleyan University is located right downtown and boasts gorgeous architectural buildings. A drive through this university is a must-do when you’re in the area.
The downtown of Middletown has spectacular restaurants and breweries too. Some local favorites include Conspiracy, Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, and Celtic Cavern. If you’re visiting with younger kids, KidCity museum is the perfect stop for some family fun.
A great place to stay right in downtown is the Inn at Middletown, which has a restaurant right on-site and is in walking distance to all the restaurants and shops. Just a few minutes outside of the downtown area is Wadsworth State Park which has a beautiful waterfall and some short hiking trails.
Not too far away is another favorite, Lyman Orchards. They sell farm fresh produce, apple cider, and if you’re in town in the Fall, you can go apple picking.
Connecticut is a great state to visit any time of year, but if you happen to be driving around New England, a stop in Middletown is worthwhile.
From Marcie of Marcie in Mommyland
If you are looking for a quaint New England town full of independent shops and restaurants, but where you can still get your Starbucks fix, head to Portland, Maine!
It’s an easy train ride from Boston or you can fly into their airport, and I’d suggest visiting Portland in late Spring and Summer to take advantage of all the fun seasonal activities, like the lobster boats, and to enjoy touring Portland by foot or bicycle.
One of the coolest things to do in Portland is to ride a vintage fire truck while learning about Portland’s incredible history. You’ll even get to wear authentic fire coats and do a few fun photo ops!
And, of course, we can’t talk about the best places to visit in New England without mentioning the lighthouses! In Portland, you’ll find lots of gorgeous lighthouses including Portland Head Light. This is one of the world’s most photographed lighthouses. Plus, you can visit Bug Light, one of the smallest lighthouses!
Beyond lighthouses, Portland, Maine is also a huge food town and was named the 2018 Restaurant City of the Year from Bon Appetit magazine.
For one thing, they have lobster everything. I’m talking about lobster rolls, lobster tacos, lobster mac and cheese, etc.
They also have tons of local breweries, fabulous global cuisine, and pizza topped with mashed potatoes (it’s incredible!). Instead of just eating at a couple of the restaurants, take a Maine Foodie Tour so you can sample from 6 different iconic Portland Maine eateries!
Portland, Maine really is New England’s biggest small town and is definitely worth a stop!
Acadia National Park
From Jennifer of National Park Obsessed
Acadia National Park is the only National Park in New England. Located in Maine on Mount Desert Island and the Schoodic Peninsula. Acadia holds a special place in New England’s heart. The Acadia is famed for its fall leaf colors, its rocky seashore, and its spectacular sunrises. The park offers visitors a wide range of activities.
During your visit to Acadia, get up one morning and drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain and enjoy the sunrise over the ocean. This spot is one of the first places in the United States to see the sunrise. This activity is very popular and the parking lot at Cadillac often fills before sunrise. Plan on being at the summit at least an hour before sunrise.
After sunrise, head down off the mountain and find a parking spot along one of the park’s shuttle routes. Acadia is very crowded and parking is very limited. Use the free shuttle bus to get to the trailheads and to explore the way overlooks.
There are many different hiking trails to choose from at all skill levels. Experienced hikers who aren’t afraid of height might like the Beehive. While other hikers might enjoy a stroll on the carriage routes or a hike around Jordon Pond.
Acadia can be visited year-round but winter access is limited and many places are snowshoe or cross-country ski only. The park is busiest from June to October. The summer temperatures draw people in for outdoor recreation and fall brings people for fall leaf viewing.
From Chelsea of Pack More Into Life
Bar Harbor and neighboring Acadia National Park are two destinations that are easy to fall in love with.
Bar Harbor is located in eastern Maine on Mt. Desert Island. It is a coastal town with quaint shops, lobster boats, beautiful homes and B&B’s to enjoy restful nights with delicious homemade breakfasts. Acadia National Park is a short 5-minute drive from Bar Harbor and features ocean paths, tidal pools, cliff climbs with massive boulders, horse-drawn carriage rides and Cadillac Mountain where you can be the first person in the US to enjoy the sun peeking over the edge of the earth in all its stunning glory!
Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park are especially beautiful in the summer and early fall when the temperatures are moderate and all the trails are open. The town bustles with festivals, tours, and outdoor activities. I recommend making a reservation in advance for the best waterfront Resorts/Inns and B&B’s.
Be sure to spend at least a few days to enjoy all the best of the area–aim for at least four full days.
You’ll want two to spend exploring Acadia and enjoying the variety of hikes, ranger programs (the stargazing is stunning), popovers at Jordan Pond House and catching a sunrise or sunset. Then another day in Bar Harbor where you’ll delight with lobster rolls, blueberry ice cream (so good!), fun shops, an oceanside path and walking across the sand bar to Bar Harbor Island at low tide. Your final day is spent exploring the surrounding areas of Southwest Harbor with a private sailboat ride, seeing the Bass Harbor Lighthouse and strolling through the Gardens.
From Toccara of Forget Someday
Ogunquit, Maine is a tiny town nestled along the coast, just under an hour south of Portland. But don’t be quick to underestimate this less than 5-square mile ‘beautiful place by the sea’ (translation of the name Ogunquit, provided by the Abenaki tribe). The town of Ogunquit offers much to see, do, and eat, you’ll need more than just a few days to discover it all.
What the town may be most well known for is its coastal walk, The Marginal Way. It’s one of New England’s best-paved seaside strolls and is fully accessible welcoming strollers and wheelchair users. The easy walk is just over one mile starting at Ogunquit Beach and ending at Perkins Cove, another one of Ogunquit’s main attractions. Perkins Cove is a fishing community turned artisan village now housing galleries, boutique shops, and seafood restaurants.
Ogunquit boasts several miles of expansive beaches that become jam-packed in the summer months. In the off-season, walkers and beachcombers continue to stroll the seashore in a less crowded and more serene atmosphere.
Something that sets Ogunquit apart is that you will not find a single chain restaurant in town. All dining options are unique and delicious! Check out Amore Breakfast for breakfast, Village Food Market for lunch, and one of the many seafood restaurants for an indulgent dinner! And absolutely do not miss a stop off at Bread and Roses Bakery downtown for a delectable whoopie pie you will continue to dream about long after your visit to Ogunquit!
From Julie of Wandering Sunsets
Boothbay Harbor is an adorable coastal town in Maine and the perfect spot for a relaxing summer weekend in New England.
Boothbay is a little bit of a local secret: even at the height of summer, the town doesn’t typically get as crowded as the rest of Maine. With a myriad of delicious oceanfront restaurants, Boothbay Harbor is seafood galore!
Grab a basket of crispy fried clams or a freshly steamed lobster and enjoy your dinner watching the sunset by the harbor. Boothbay is also a great destination for a family trip. The town is very walkable with many cute shops and cafes. Kids will love the old school ice cream and candy stands lining the streets!
There are tons of things you can do from Boothbay Harbor. Hop on one of the boat excursions to see seals, whales, and puffins.
A boat ride is the best way to explore the Maine rugged coastline, with its many lighthouses and rocky islands. If you prefer to go on a road trip, take the scenic route to Ocean Point and have a picnic on the rocks at sunset. Another highlight of the region is the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, where you can stroll through beautiful floral plantings, pretty waterfalls, and fountains, and enjoy sweeping scenic views.
If you’re looking for an active vacation, Boothbay Harbor is home to many nature trails, world-class sea kayaking, and a beautiful golf course! Finally, you can take a ferry trip to Monhegan Island, which is a small wooded island with many hiking trails to discover. So if you are looking to experience the highlight of a Maine summer without too many crowds, the picturesque town of Boothbay Harbor is the perfect destination.
From Dhara of It’s Not About the Miles
The quintessential New England city, Boston is a must-visit if you love American history!
Boston was settled by the Puritans from England as far back as 1630! It is the site of many important events in the times leading up to America’s independence, from the Boston Tea Party to Paul Revere’s Ride and the Battle of Bunker Hill. It’s awesome to walk around the city and savor so many landmark events.
But Boston isn’t all about the past. It’s a vibrant, gorgeous, walkable city, with a stunning skyline, lots of great architecture blending the old and the new, and tons of fun things to do. Take a walk through the Boston Common. Walk a part or all of the Freedom Trail. Spend an afternoon in the Boston Public Garden, walking among the flowers or enjoying a swan boat ride. Head to the top of the Skywalk Observatory for panoramic 360-degree views.
Leave room in your itinerary for water activities. A harbor cruise is the perfect way to take in the beauty of Boston from the ocean. Or enjoy a Charles River Boat Tour. And if you’re a foodie, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Boston. From food trucks to fine dining, Boston has loads of great places to eat.
Boston makes for the perfect city break any time of year, but I especially enjoy visiting in the spring and the fall, when temperatures are pleasant. In the fall, of course, you’ll be treated to spectacular displays of leaf color. In the spring, blooming trees and bulb displays liven up the city.
If you’re looking for places to visit in New England, be sure to put Boston at the top of your list. You’ll have a blast in Beantown, guaranteed!
From Jodi of Family Travel Magazine
Often associated with Halloween, there are lots of things to do in Salem MA beyond the month of October, and it’s one of the best places to visit in New England year-round.
Start your visit with the Salem Heritage Trail, a self-guided walking tour around the city that is marked with a red line on the sidewalks. It will take you by many of the most popular attractions in the city.
History and literature buffs will love the House of Seven Gables, which was made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel. Guests visiting the house will also be able to see Hawthorne’s birthplace.
There are also many different guided walking tours, including ghost tours. Some of these are family-friendly, but you’ll want to check in advance.
The Peabody Essex Museum is located in the center of town and offers kid-friendly exhibits along with maritime and Asian art.
If you are visiting during the month of October, you’ll truly get to the experience the Witch City. There are activities offered throughout the city, including costume contests, a parade, and a street fair. Many of the Salem Witch Trial attractions, like the Salem Witch Museum, are open year-round. If you visit in October, however, you’ll find the lines to be much longer.
The waterfront location of Salem means that you’ll be able to take advantage of water activities, including boat tours. There are several restaurants located on the water as well. As you walk, explore the entire area, beyond just the witch trial and Halloween attractions.
From James of Travel Collecting
One of the best places to visit in New England is a cranberry bog in the fall.
Cranberries can be dry or wet harvested. The wet harvesting involves flooding fields with a couple of feet of water and creating “cranberry bogs”. The fruit is then shaken off the vines and floats to the surface, making it easy to harvest by vacuuming it up and into the back of waiting trucks. This is not only a fascinating process to watch, but it also creates entire fields of bright red floating berries, which are incredibly picturesque.
There are several cranberry bogs in Massachusetts that have harvest viewing tours, including Stone Bridge Farm and Spring Rain Farm (both by appointment only).
One of them, Bensons Pond Farm, even offers the opportunity to be a cranberry farmer for a day (or at least an hour or so). You get into waders and step into a flooded field, surrounded by floating cranberries, and help sweep them into the vacuum. This is a unique experience that few people get to try.
Even if you don’t want to don waders and be a farmer, watching the harvest and taking great photos is well worth it.
There are several cranberry farms scattered around New England that offer tours of the bog in harvest season (late September to early November), as well as the opportunity to buy fresh cranberries and other cranberry products direct from the farm. Read more about experiencing a cranberry bog in Massachusetts and get links to the farms here.
From Amy of Two Drifters
Rockport, MA is certainly one of the best places to visit in New England, and it still remains somewhat of a hidden gem!
This art colony situated on the tip of Cape Ann is picturesque seaside New England at its best. Photo opportunities are everywhere you look in Rockport, from the much-photographed and pained fish shed known as ‘Motif No. 1’ to the cozily clustered boutiques and art galleries lining Bearskin Neck.
This is a wonderful place for a relaxing getaway, especially for couples. Wander through the galleries of local artisans, peruse the unique boutique shops, and then walk along the beach. Everything for a great vacation is right here–no matter what your taste, you’re bound to find plenty of cool things to do in Rockport!
Getting out on the water is a great addition to your trip to Rockport. Whale watching trips are offered seasonally out of nearby Gloucester, or you can hire kayaks for more personal water exploration. If staying on dry land is more your thing, don’t miss the beautiful nature walks at Halibut Point.
By Suzanne Fluhr of Boomeresque
Williamstown calls itself “The Village Beautiful”, and is well worth a visit just for the beauty of its location in the extreme northwest corner of Massachusetts. It is nestled among the rolling Berkshire Mountains and is the home of Williams College.
Williamstown is a quintessential New England college town, complete with a white Congregational church on the college green.
Williamstown is a four-season destination. Each fall, visitors are dazzled as the leaves burst into their New England autumnal colors. Outdoor recreation is popular in Williamstown which is a good base for both downhill and cross country skiers. Williams College welcomes golfers to its beautiful 100 acre Taconic Golf Club course in the spring, summer and fall. Hiking in the beautiful, but not too challenging, Berkshire Mountains is also popular with Williamstown visitors.
Williamstown abounds with cultural institutions not often found in and near such a small town. It is home to 2 world-class museums: the Clark Art Institute with a notable Impressionist collection, and the Williams College Museum of Art. Summer brings the 8-week long Williamstown Summer Theater Festival, a draw for renowned thespians and directors.
The Massachusetts Museum of Modern Art is just east of Williamstown in North Adams. In southern Berkshire County, you can visit the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge which is also the summer home of the Boston Symphony at the Tanglewood Estate. The Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival is in nearby Beckett, Massachusetts.
Williamstown has more hotel and bed & breakfast inn rooms than might be expected. However, check the Williams College calendar to avoid dates when room demand is high due to college events.
Cape Cod Area
From Sarah of Travels of Sarah Fay
Cape Cod, or the Cape as locals refer to it, is the perfect escape for those looking for the perfect weekend getaway in New England. The region has been home to many looking to escape the rat race of everyday America. It is a region that follows the entire Route 6 from the Cape Cod Canal Rail bridge to the tip of the Cape, Provincetown (scroll down for more on that!). Time seems like it stands still as you explore villages, backroads, and old town main streets that are reminiscent of an era long gone.
The Cape offers many opportunities, such as exploring the 40 mile stretch of beaches of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Here you can bike on miles of trails, walk along boardwalks like Grays Board walk in Yarmouth over protected marshlands, and experience some of the best birdwatching in the USA.
Historically, Cape Cod was known for its’ seafaring Captains that would hunt for whales and today tourists can still go on a boat for some whale watching. In Cape Cod could you see big blue whales, great white sharks, and seals at the same time not too far from shore.
After a tiring day at the beach or exploring one of Cape Cod’s 14 historical lighthouses, head to Wellfleet’s Drive-In Movie theater for some real nostalgia. The historic drive-in theater is one of the last operating ones of its kind. Cape Cod is one of the only places where you can really enjoy, relax, and not worry about what you will do next, you live in the moment.
From Aga of Traveling with Aga
Provincetown is a seaside town at the tip of Cape Cod, the most popular summer destination in New England. Out of all the towns on the Cape, it’s the most vibrant and colorful. This charming fishing village has a lot to offer, from the beautiful beaches, amazing food to vibrant nightlife and some of the best people-watching.
P-town, as locals call it, prides itself on being a very welcoming place. For years it’s been favored by artist and LBGTQ community, that choose P-town as their summer destination.
While taking a day trip to P-town is possible, this quaint Massachusetts town deserves at least a couple of days to see all that it has to offer, which is plenty. The heart of Provincetown is Commercial Street, lined with quirky stores, galleries, and restaurants. One of my favorite things to do in town is biking up and down the streets, before heading down the bike path through the dunes, which are part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. The landscape is truly unique and it’s a nice break from all the commotion of Commercial Street.
Being on the Massachusetts shoreline, Provincetown has great beaches, Herring Cove and Race Point being among the favorites. The latter, with its famous historic lighthouse, is perfect not just for relaxing on the beach, but also for spotting some wildlife. Keep an eye out for sea lions, that can often be seen close to the shore.
There are a couple of ways you can get to Provincetown from Boston. The fastest and most enjoyable way is taking the highspeed ferry, that reaches P-town in just 90 minutes. Driving is another option, but keep in mind that weekend summer traffic heading to Cape Cod is brutal. The standard 3 hours it usually takes, turns into 5 or more. Unless you are able to travel on weekdays, avoid driving and choose the ferry instead.
White Mountain National Forest
From Richa of My Ticklefeet
The White Mountain National Forest area is quite big and you can easily spend an entire weekend exploring this region. You will definitely need a car to drive around the forest to access the scenic spots. Although spring and summer are great seasons to visit this region, in my opinion, fall is the best time to be here. New England is famous for its fall colors and White Mountain National Forest is the place to visit in New Hampshire in autumn.
Within the White Mountain region, be sure not miss highlights like the White Mountain Cog Railway, which will take you to the top of the White Mountain summit by steam train, stunning Kancamagus Highway, beautiful Echo lake, or Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway.
Definitely be sure to include Flume Gorge of your list of places to visit in New England. The granite walls in Flume Gorge are formations from the Jurassic times which have passed the test of Ice Age. There is a short 20 minutes boardwalk hike which will take you up, close, and around these gorge walls.
From Amy of New England With Love
Portsmouth is one of New Hampshire’s top destinations. If you need a great day trip from Boston, this is a wonderful option, as it’s just over an hour’s drive away.
Here you can enjoy the waterfront of the Southern NH coast, all while exploring a charming and historic city. Portsmouth has a cute downtown that embodies what most would imagine of New England. Here you’ll find great shopping and cafes set next to white-steepled churches.
In recent years, the Seacoast region has experienced a massive boom in the food industry, with terrific restaurants popping up constantly. There are many of these to be experienced downtown, including Cure, Black Trumpet, Moxy, and Row 34.
History lovers will want to stop by the Strawbery Banke Museum, an outdoor museum that showcases preserved historical buildings. Don’t miss Book & Bar, a bookstore-meets-coffee-shop-
The best time of year to visit Portsmouth is in December. The town comes alive at Christmastime and is known as one of the best Christmas destinations in the country, largely in part to its lively and popular Vintage Christmas celebration, which takes place city-wide every year.
From Brianne of A Traveling Life
Newport, Rhode Island, has long been the summer playground of New England’s rich and famous – it’s where wealthy families started building grand mansions in the mid-1850s, and on September 12, 1953, it’s where John F. Kennedy married Jackie Bouvier.
There’s still plenty of fun to be had in Newport today, and it remains one of the best places to see in New England. When the weather is warm, you can relax on one of its two beautiful beaches – First Beach and Second Beach. The Cliff Walk is also a very popular activity – the 3.5-mile trail provides stunning ocean views.
Newport is also the site of many sporting and entertainment events throughout the year, including the Newport Folk Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival as well as boat races, tennis and polo tournaments.
Given Newport’s rich sailing history, one of the best ways to experience Newport is on the water, so consider taking a spin on a sightseeing cruise. However, if the weather isn’t cooperating, you can check out one of its museums like the International Tennis Hall of Fame or National Museum of American Illustration, or tour one of its many historic homes like the Breakers or the Isaac Bell House.
The streets of downtown Newport are packed with gift shops, antique stores and art galleries, as well as cafes, bars, and restaurants to suit every taste and budget – from diners to ocean-front fine dining and everything in between. Needless to say, you’ll find plenty of fresh seafood in Newport!
From Anisa of Two Traveling Texans
Block Island is a small island 13 miles off the coast of Rhode Island, and it’s one of the best places to visit in New England in the summer. While it may not be the easiest place to get to (it’s best to take a ferry to Block Island) the journey is worth it!
The beaches are pristine and some are ideal for clamming or fishing. If you are serious about fishing, you can charter a fishing boat.
Seafood lovers will have plenty of choices at the different restaurants on the island. Lobster lovers will be in heaven because it is relatively cheap! Additionally, for a small island, the nightlife is lively and there are plenty of bars to choose from. Shoppers will enjoy the boutique shops that are perfect for finding unique gifts.
There are also plenty of trails for hiking or biking. Keep an eye out for hundreds of glass balls that are randomly hidden across Block Island as part of the Glass Float Project. You can also visit the two historic lighthouses on the island and take in the stunning views from the cliffs.
With all that Block Island has to offer, you will want to spend at least a night or two. National Hotel is an excellent place to stay, and is located right in the middle of the town and is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Plus, the hotel’s restaurant, The Tap & Grille, serves up absolutely delicious food!
From Jamie of The Daily Adventures of Me
Often cited as the prettiest small town in America, Woodstock is quintessential New England.
Vermont is the artsiest of the New England states, full of studios and farms producing local ingredients and all of that can be accessed from the town of Woodstock–and you absolutely can’t go wrong by spending a perfect fall weekend in Woodstock, Vermont.
A whole day can be spent in the historic downtown Woodstock exploring the shops, town green, covered bridge and one of the prettiest libraries in New England. There is even an old-fashioned country store that feels like a classic slice of Americana.
Just a short drive from town you can explore the Quechee River Gorge, a yummy farmer’s market or the artist studio of Simon Pearce.
There is skiing nearby, but fall is the best time to visit Woodstock where you can see New England’s vibrant colors against the mountains, farms and stone walls of Woodstock.
From Rob & Ann of Travel Latte
One of New England’s truly iconic, can’t-miss destinations is Stowe, Northern Vermont’s hub for ski resorts, mountain hiking, and temptations for all of your senses.
Popular ski resorts Smuggler’s Notch and Stowe Mountain made the village famous, but Stowe is a true all-season destination, and one of the best places to visit in New England year-round.
In the warmer months, climbing and hiking trails ascend Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, and run throughout the Mount Mansfield State Forest, and Stowe Land Trust’s Pinnacle Meadows. Those same trails are Stowe’s main attraction during the fall, when Leaf Peeping is in full swing. Not a hiker? See the colors from above on the Stowe Mountain Gondola.
Most people don’t know that Stowe has an adventure for your tastebuds, too! A drive down Route 100 starts with a crafted cup from Vermont Artisan Coffee. The next stop is Cold Hollow Cider Mill to watch (and taste) fresh cider being pressed and grab a coveted hot Apple Cider Donut. Better yet, grab two before heading down the road to Waterbury Center to stock up at local chocolatier Lake Champlain Chocolate, and Smuggler’s Notch Distillery factory stores.
Next, pull into the original Ben & Jerry’s factory for a tour and samples! The 30-minute tour ends in the Flavoroom with free samples. The good news is, you can take the tour as many times as you’d like! The road ends in Waterbury, the birthplace of Green Mountain Coffee, for another tasty cup.
Finally, indulge your Sound of Music fandom at the Trapp Family Lodge, founded by the family made famous by the movie. The historic lodge offers outdoor adventures including horseback and mountain bike riding on the family’s private land. Indoors, enjoy yoga and spa treatments while surrounded by Trapp Family memorabilia. Be sure to visit the Trapp Brewery and Bierhall, too, for original brews, tasty pub food, and amazing views.